Harvest numbers were strong at south-central Montana’s three check stations during the fourth week of big game hunting season. Elk hunters reported the highest totals, with 413 elk checked through the stations.
For the fourth week in a row, the Darby check station saw the most elk. A total 380 elk passed through the station compared to 93 during the same week in 2004.
“We saw a lot of happy hunters with a lot of elk this weekend,” says John Vore, FWP wildlife biologist covering the Darby check station. “Saturday was the beginning of the general-license brow-tined bull/antlerless elk season in several Bitterroot hunting districts, and by the end of the evening we had checked enough cow elk to issue a closure notice for the 270 district.”
The quota for HD 270 is a harvest of 250 cow elk checked through the Darby check station. A total 177 cow elk had checked through the station on Saturday when the 24-hour closure notice was issued. By the end of shooting hours Sunday, harvest totals neared the 250 cow elk quota.
Deer harvest was also high region-wide. Mule deer harvest totals are nine percent ahead of last year after week four and 12 percent above the five-year average. White-tailed harvest is up 12 percent from last year and 16 percent above the five-year average.
The Bonner check station reported the most deer during week four with 159 white-tailed deer and 48 mule deer checked.
Through week four, a total of 19,741 hunters have checked 1,010 elk, 794 white-tailed deer, 462 mule deer, two mountain goats, one moose, twelve bighorn sheep and eight black bears. The region’s cumulative hunter harvest success through week four was 11.6 percent, above last year’s hunter success of 8.9 percent.The general big game season ends one-half hour after sunset on Sunday, Nov. 27.